FT Top 5 Young Players With African Roots: Ryan Sessegnon [Fulham]
Ryan was born on 18 May 2000 in Roehampton London together with his twin brother Steven. He is a distant cousin of the Benin international footballer, Stephane Sessegnon and plays as left back/ left winger for EFL Championship side, Fulham which he joined starting from the U-9 side. In the 2016/17 season, Ryan became the first professional player born in the 2000s to score a goal in the English top leagues when he found the back of the net against Cardiff City. He made a total of 30 appearances for Fulham in that season and delivered performances that earned him a spot in the PFA Championship Team Of The Year, the youngest player ever to be included in such a setup. He became a person of interest among the media houses with Sports Illustrated naming him the 19th best U-20 footballers in the world in May 2017 and a subject of speculation in the summer transfer window with Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich reportedly interest in the teenager who was then too young to sign a professional contract according to PFA rules. After his 17th birthday, Ryan opted to stay at Fulham with an assurance of game time being his main reason for the choice.
"Last season I got a lot of opportunities so I want to continue that. When you are young you just want to play as many games as you can." - Ryan Sessegnon
The just-ended season was no exception to Sessegnon’s ingenuity, scoring 16 goals and 7 assists for Fulham in 51 matches. He helped them to a third-place finish and delivered a standout performance in their playoff semi-final against Derby. He became the first Championship player to be nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year eventually won by Manchester City’s Leroy Sane. He won an unprecedented five awards, Championship Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season, Apprentice of the Year, and named in the Championship Team of the Season and EFL Club Developed XI. Ryan has also featured for England in the 2017 U-19 Euro Finals where he scored three goals to finish joint top scorer and included in the team of the tournament as England won the championship for the first time.